Brand Nubian Talks New York, Hip-Hop & Education

On the track "Remember That," from Rakim's album The 18th Letter, the God MC laments over his days rocking crowds at the Union Square.Along with other landmark venues like the Latin Quarters, Ra and other hip-hop acts had plenty of places to rock the mic.But Lord Jamar from Brand Nubian thinks that era is long gone."You could see a show every week, some hot sh*t," he told "Now if it ain't at a f*cking Madison Square Garden or some big sh*t, it's not too much popping off. It's not too good here in New York."And once rappers find a place to get some mic time, Grand Puba said they should take more time injecting knowledge into their rhymes.Though he does defend the notion that today's rappers aren't saying substantial anything in their songs."Everybody has something to say, it's whether you agree with what they saying, that's your choice," he said. "Because they [do] have something to say, it's mainly dealing with what's going on today. To say that they have nothing to say, I don't really agree with that. They say it in a different way, but it's always (about) struggle."Puba, however, added, "They missing that element of education right now. [But] that's what we do. That's the level we on right now."Group member Sadat X is a fine example of what Puba said hip-hop needs.Sadat X has been teaching sixth grade special education and coaching basketball.He said he deems his work a success although some would favor financial gain instead.But his success is measured by his contribution to the community's future."To do something worthwhile and for what we were set forth to do, that makes it even more fulfilling," Sadat said. "The main duty for us is to teach. So what could be greater than that but teaching the youth because they come behind us?"Brand Nubian recently signed to Babygrande Records and will release their fifth album later this year.Previously, the group released All For One,In God We Trust,Everything Is Everything, and their previous project, Foundation, which was released in 1998 on Arista Records.